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VIDEO: Frank Molinaro Headed to Rio 2016 Olympics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling national champion and current assistant coach Frank Molinaro is set to represent the United States at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August.

Molinaro qualified for the Olympics in dramatic fashion after the United States solidified a berth at the 65 kg weight class following a doping violation involving participants in a qualifying tournament. Molinaro learned of the news while on the golf course in Happy Valley.

The 2012 NCAA champ at 149 pounds will spend the summer training and competing before traveling to Rio in early August. Molinaro and Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson talked with the media on Monday about Molinaro's spot in the Olympics.







Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session VI - Lions Crown Two Champions

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NCAA Championships - Nittany Lions Clinch 2016 National Title | VIDEO: Cael Sanderson

NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup | NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

NEW YORK - Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford put an exclamation point on Penn State's fifth team national championship in six season by earning their first individual national titles on Saturday night in sold out Madison Square Garden.

Having already clinched the 2016 NCAA title during the morning session, the Nittany Lions entered the evening with five individuals seeking their first championship in a Blue & White singlet. Megaludis and Retherford wrestled outstanding matches on the sport's biggest stage en route to a spot atop the podium inside The Garden.

11803023.jpegMegaludis has been a rock solid competitor for the Nittany Lions since he stepped on to campus five years ago. No stranger to the stage at the national tournament, Megaludis ran out of his corner to the national title tilt for the third time in his career.

The Nittany Lion fifth-year senior jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a first-period takedown against Iowa's Thomas Gilman. The Murrysville native added a second takedown in the second and never looked back en route to a 6-2 triumph over Gilman.

The four-time All-American had a look in his eye that he was not going to be denied the opportunity to have his arm raised as a national champion in his final attempt at the ultimate prize.

When the clock ticked to zero, Megaludis erupted with jubilation. He immediately raised his arms to salute the boisterous Penn State faithful in the corner of Madison Square Garden. Megaludis then raced to the corner of the mat to embrace head coach Cael Sanderson and associate head coach Cody Sanderson before returning to the center to have his arm raised as a national champion for the Nittany Lions.

"I'm the champion. I don't know, man, nothing else to it. I'm the champion. It's a pretty good feeling," said Megaludis.

Megaludis has rarely shown any type of emotion after the 119 victories during his career, but this night was special. It has been five years of hard work and effort to reach the pinnacle of the sport, and Megaludis was grateful for the opportunity he earned on Saturday night.

"I'm just relieved. I knew I was going to be the champion," said Megaludis. "It was a done deal a year ago when I signed everywhere - my room, Penn State, my room at home, my bathroom at home, my wrestling room at home, my car steering wheel: I am 2016 national champion. I come into my car every day on my steering wheel and I see that and I brainwashed myself. And I don't know, I brainwashed myself and I got it done."

"He's a guy that we wanted to win in the worst possible way. And it was emotional," said Sanderson. "It was awesome. We're happy for him, a kid that works extremely hard. He's very disciplined and very consistent. Always gives his best effort. Very rare."
 
11803069.jpegRetherford's run through the bracket at 149 pounds was nothing short of remarkable during the three-day tournament. After rolling to a 21-6 technical fall in the first round, Retherford pinned his next three opponents on his way to the final match against Brandon Sorenson from Iowa.

The Nittany Lion sophomore made it five-straight matches with bonus points in the final with a dominant 10-1 victory over Sorenson. Retherford tallied two takedowns in the first period, an escape and a takedown in the second, a takedown in the third and clinched the riding time point for a major decision victory.

No stage is too big for the Benton, Pa., native because each time he steps onto the mat, he does it with great enjoyment. Retherford is fierce with the pace he wrestles at, and his motor genuinely never stops. The amount of pressure he puts on opponents is relentless. But what separates him from most wrestlers is his attitude.

"I've been dreaming of this moment since I started going to camps when I was really little," said Retherford. "I looked at posters on the wall of guys who had won national titles wanting to be one of those guys. Today, it feels great to say that I have achieved it."

"He's only a sophomore. But the pressure he puts on his opponents and his ability to score points," said Sanderson. "We're glad he's only a sophomore. We wish he was a freshman. Or just coming into school, I guess. But great leader for us. We hope everyone can follow his lead. He made a huge jump from his freshman year."

Wrestling is a unique sport with the peaks and valleys of the national tournament. As a team, Coach Sanderson and the Nittany Lions reached the highest of highs after winning the team title earlier in the day. Megaludis and Retherford then claimed individual crowns, but the final three Lions on the mat came up just short of earning victories in their title bouts.

Jason Nolf and Illinois standout Isaiah Martinez put on a show at the 157-pound final, with Martinez scoring a late takedown to claim a 6-5 win. Bo Nickal then rallied from 9-4 down at the end of the second period and fell short by a count of 11-9 against Ohio State's Myles Martin in the 174-pound title match. Senior Morgan McIntosh's stellar career fell just shy, as well, in a narrow 4-2 decision to Missouri's J'Den Cox. The four-time All-American finished with a 114-19 career mark.

Coach Sanderson was thrilled with the collective team's efforts and the individual honors Megaludis and Retherford achieved, but he will enter the offseason hungry to watch the team improve and learn from its experiences in New York.

"Coaching wrestling is tough. Because it's a team game. We want to win as a team, obviously," said Sanderson. "But we have 10 individuals and as a coach my job is to help those individual. If the individuals do well, the team does well. So it's certainly bittersweet. It's tough, it's painful. It hurts when guys don't reach their goals. And in the long run those young guys, it will make them a bit hungrier, they'll have a little more urgency to improve. They'll come back here with fire."

Penn State finished the national tournament with 23.0 bonus points, six All-Americans, a sixth place finish, three second-place finishes and two national champions. Penn State now has 25 national champions (32 titles) in the program's rich history.

The recipe for success at the NCAA Wrestling Championships is consistency, and the Nittany Lions were stout for three days en route to a 25.5-point margin over the second-place team in the standings.

"I think, when you win the national championships, you've got to be pretty happy and pumped," said Sanderson. "Obviously a great team effort -- five guys in the finals, six All-Americans. We're happy. But we leave here ready to improve and build and get some freshmen to the next level. And we're happy we won but we're excited about the future also."

The Nittany Lions' reign over the wrestling world returned in Madison Square Garden. Penn State Wrestling is now a five-time national champion.

11803042.jpeg
Final Team Standings
1. Penn State - 123.0
2. Oklahoma State - 97.5
3. Ohio State - 86.0
4. Virginia Tech - 82.0
5. Iowa - 81.0


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (32-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION


149: #1 Zain Retherford (34-0) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION


157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-2) - 4-1 - Second Place

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-2) - 4-1 - Second Place

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-1) - 4-1 - Second Place



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


2016 NCAA Championships Session V - Nittany Lions Clinch National Title

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11799126.jpegNCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup | NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team returned to the pinnacle of the sport on Saturday morning inside Madison Square Garden by clinching its fifth national championship in the last six seasons.

By virtue of the results in the fifth session of the NCAA Championships, the Lions will head into the national finals with the team title locked up as the 2016 national champions.

By no means is a national team title easy to win, but Penn State's scoring output in New York certainly made it appear easy. Since the time the Lions stepped onto the mat Thursday morning in the opening matches of the tournament, they were on a mission to score.

The relentless approach and quantity of bonus points Penn State tallied made it seem like the Lions had 10 or 11 wrestlers competing in a Blue and White singlet this week. It takes a complete team effort to reign over the wrestling world, and every wrestler on the roster played a role in the 2016 national championship.

Penn State's six All-Americans were the stars for the Nittany Lions, though. Nico Megaludis, Jordan Conaway, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal and Morgan McIntosh added to the illustrious list of All-Americans in the program's storied history.

For the third time in program history, the Lions earned five spots in the NCAA finals. Those five wrestlers - Megaludis, Retherford, Nolf, Nickal and McIntosh - accounted for a total of 20.5 bonus points for the Nittany Lions. All five will have an opportunity to become national champions on Saturday night, but their efforts in New York have been nothing short of remarkable.

Head coach Cael Sanderson sets the tone in the wrestling room with a positive attitude and competitive spirit. The team enjoys going to work everyday, and the group is grateful for the opportunity to represent Penn State on and off the mat.

It's not a grind for the Nittany Lions to prepare for competition. It's something the team embraces with enthusiasm. And that mantra translated into a truly dominant week in Madison Square Garden.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a great base for every other sport that there is and it's fun," said Sanderson. "These guys, they dream about winning NCAA Championships when as a 5-year-old. We want them to keep that mentality at Penn State, that shouldn't change when they get to the nationals, we say, what did you want to do? You want to win, let's go win."

Sanderson's teams have a knack for competing at peak-level in March and rising to the occasion when the postseason tournaments arrive. The 2016 team marched to a Big Ten title two weeks ago, and now the Nittany Lions are back atop the wrestling world as the 2016 national champions thanks to a stellar effort in The World's Most Famous Arena.

Now, the team can focus on its five national championship matches on Saturday night as it sits atop the wrestling world.

"Regardless of the (team outcome), we are still going out there to try and score points and win every match," said Sanderson.


Session V Roundup

Senior Jordan Conaway wrapped up his Nittany Lion career on Saturday morning by finishing sixth in the 133-pound draw. After coming up just short in the NCAA quarterfinals on Friday, Conaway rallied for a pair of victories in the evening session to become an All-American for the second time in his career.

Wrestling in the Medal Round of the national tournament on Saturday, Conaway dropped two tight matches against third-seeded Zane Richards (4-3) from Illinois and eighth-seeded Eric Montoya (7-4) from Nebraska. All of the Blue and White clad fans inside Madison Square Garden wanted to see Conaway walk off the mat as winner in his final bout, but you won't find a wrestler with more drive and determination than the fifth-year senior from Abbotstown, Pa.

"He's a great individual and just a great kid," said Sanderson. "He's the type of guy that if he was a member of your family, you would be super proud of him. He's just a phenomenal individual and a person to be around."

Conaway originally committed to Liberty in 2011, but when the university cut its wrestling program, Conaway was looking for a resting place in college. His phone rang in March of 2011, and it was Sanderson looking to talk with Conaway about joining the Penn State program. He committed to be a Nittany Lion, and the rest is history.

The senior is a model student-athlete and will leave Happy Valley as a two-time All-American.

"When he gets beat, it's not because he didn't go out there and fight. Jordan is a great example of a guy who gives everything he has during every match," said Sanderson.

Session six of the NCAA Championships begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN and ESPN3.com). The stage is set for five Nittany Lions in their quest to become national champions for the Blue and White. Nico Megaludis will kick things off just after 8 p.m. against Iowa's Thomas Gilman.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (31-3) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 4 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (30-8) - 4-3 - Sixth Place

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (33-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois)

165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 11 Myles Martin (Ohio State)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 J'Den Cox (Missouri)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session IV Roundup

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NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup
NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Press Conference (3/18/16)

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team flexed its muscle with a dominant performance in the fourth session of the NCAA Championships on Friday evening inside Madison Square Garden.

Penn State roared to an undefeated session, which included a stellar 5-0 mark in national semifinal bouts. There will be five Nittany Lions on the sport's grandest stage come Saturday night in The Garden after Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) all earned trips to the finals with victories.

Simply put, the Lions were phenomenal in all seven bouts they contested in before a crowd of more than 18,000 raucous fans at MSG. In addition to the five finalists, senior Jordan Conaway (133) battled past two All-Americans to reach the consolation semifinals and All-America status for the second straight season.

"We're happy we wrestled well, a lot of tough matches, big day, quarter and semifinals," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "Tonight was good. We went 7-for-7, which is good, (Jordan) Conaway wrestled great. He was in the wrestle backs, beat a couple of All-Americans"

It takes a total effort to find success in the team scoring race, and the Lions could not have put together a more impressive session than the one on Friday. With the seven wins and five finalists, Penn State enters Saturday with 114.0 points and owns a 34.5-point edge over second place Oklahoma State and a 36.5-point lead over third-place Iowa.

With two more sessions and lots of action still on tap in New York, the team race has not been decided, but the Nittany Lions are in control.


Session IV Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Penn State - 114.0 (5 Finalists, 1 Consolation)
2. Oklahoma State - 79.5 (2 Finalists, 4 Consolation)
3. Iowa - 48.5 (3 Finalists, 3 Consolation)
4. Virginia Tech - 69.5 (0 Finalists, 6 Consolation)
5. Ohio State - 68.0 (2 Finalists, 2 Consolation)

11798196.jpegPenn State's stellar evening began with Megaludis punching a ticket to the NCAA finals for the third time in his career. The four-time All-American topped American's David Terao by an 8-2 margin. Megaludis had a takedown in each period on the way to the national finals at 125 pounds.

"I've been wrestling well for the most part this tournament. I've been picking up each round, and I just - I'll wrestle better and better each match, and tomorrow it's going to be awesome. I can't wait," said Megaludis.

Retherford continued a string of truly dominant performances in New York with his third-straight pin. The two-time All-American marched into the finals with a fall at the 4:49 mark against Michigan's Alec Pantaleo. Retherford's trip to New York has included a technical fall and three pins, largely thanks to his relentless pace on the mat.

"You know, that's something you just - you can work on your shape, so that's something. You might not be as talented, or you might not have the technique at that point in time, but you can always - there's no excuse for really being out of shape ever, I feel like," said Retherford.

In the third semifinal match for the Nittany Lions, Nolf raced to 10-point lead with a total of eight near-fall points in the opening minutes. The redshirt freshman never looked back from there en route to a 19-4 technical fall (5:19) in the semifinals against Rider's Chad Walsh. Nolf has scored a pin, two technical falls and a major in his first appearance at the national tournament.

"I'm excited. I didn't really care who I wrestled. I'm just going to go out with the same mentality, score a lot of points, and same thing is going to happen as I've been doing. I'm going to keep trying to score points," said Nolf.

Nickal made if 4-for-4 in semifinal bouts for the Nittany Lions with a narrow 4-3 victory over Indiana's Nathan Jackson. Nickal's second period takedown and defense in the final seconds proved to be the difference in a very tight match at 174 pounds. He will learn from the experience, and Nickal is excited to be a part of Saturday's final match.

"I'm looking forward to keeping it going for a long time coming and being in this venue it's great," said Nickal. "I saw a sign that said Madison Square Garden, Most Famous Venue in the World. Doesn't get much better than competing here. It's an awesome experience. Glad to get out there and compete and do what I love and have the people I love, my teammates and my coaches, so really grateful for this opportunity."

The final Nittany Lion on the semifinal mats was a senior who has relished the opportunity to represent the Blue and White since the season began in October. McIntosh is a humble and grateful as anyone in the program. His 3-1 victory over Iowa's Nathan Burak propelled the Lion senior to his first finals appearance on Friday.

"Obviously I would have liked to have gotten more points and taken more shots, but some matches score like that and you just gotta move on and take what you can and learn from it and move on to the finals," said McIntosh. "It was fun and, you know, it was exciting. You can't ask for a better place to be wrestling out there than in the semifinals of the tournament in a place like this in front of a crowd like that. So I'm happy to be here and grateful for the opportunity."

The Nittany Lions are poised for another big day in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Through four sessions in New York, Penn State has tallied 22.0 bonus points. The remarkable total is more than team total of 55 of the 72 teams competing at the NCAA Championships.

Session five of the NCAA Championships begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday (ESPNU and ESPN3.com). The medal round will be contested on three mats with the consolation semifinals, third, fifth and seventh place bouts on tap. Conaway will be the lone Lion in action as he pursues third on Saturday morning in The Garden. He can do no worse than fifth at 133 pounds. Stay tuned for much more from New York.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (31-3) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 4 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)


133: #5 Jordan Conaway (30-6) - 4-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next: Consolation Semifinals vs. No. 3 Zane Richards (Illinois)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (33-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa)


157: #3 Jason Nolf (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois)


165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (33-1) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 11 Myles Martin (Ohio State)


184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (32-0) - 4-0 - Championship Match
Up Next: Finals vs. No. 2 J'Den Cox (Missouri)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


2016 NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

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NCAA Championships Session I Roundup | NCAA Championships Session II Roundup

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team turned in a dominant session inside Madison Square Garden on Friday morning with five wrestlers powering into the NCAA semifinals.

In all, the Lions went 5-1 in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, which included four bonus-point victories. Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) each earned All-America status and will wrestle in Friday night's semifinals after posting victories in session three of the NCAA Championships.

Penn State's bonus point total has been the story of the week in New York. The Nittany Lions have scored bonus points in 13 of their 21 victories (18.5 bonus points) during the first three sessions. In the quarterfinals, Retherford tallied a pin and Nolf, Nickal and McIntosh notched major decisions to propel the Lions into the fourth session.

Thanks to the 5.0 bonus points in the morning session, the Nittany Lions extended their lead in the team standings to 14.5 points over Ohio State. Penn State owns a 21-7 overall record in the tournament will take a 68.5-54.0 lead into the evening session on Friday. Penn State has five wrestlers in the semifinals, while second-place Ohio State has four.

In total, six Nittany Lions remain alive in the draws. Jordan Conaway (133) will each wrestle in consolation action on Friday night.


Session III Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Penn State - 68.5 (5 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
2. Ohio State - 54.0 (4 Main Draw, 1 Consolation)
3. Iowa - 48.5 (4 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
4. Oklahoma State - 46.0 (3 Main Draw, 5 Consolation)


11795704.jpegWith All-America status on the line in the quarterfinals, Friday's morning session tends to be one of the most intense sessions of the weekend. Additionally, each win in the quarters adds 7.0 points in the team scoring, placing a big emphasis on results during the morning.

All that being said, Penn State rose to the occasion in a big way inside MSG on Friday morning. Megaludis has been a standout leadoff man during his four years in a Penn State singlet. His efforts in a dominant 4-0 decision against Michigan's Connor Youtsey added another chapter to that leadoff legacy.

Megaludis became Penn State's ninth four-time All-American with the victory, and the Murraysville native will be making his fourth appearance in the NCAA semifinals on Friday.

Following an 8-4 setback by Jordan Conaway in his quarterfinal tilt against fourth-seeded Cody Brewer at 133 pounds, Retherford stepped onto the mat as the next Nittany Lion looking to earn a spot in the semifinals. Continuing a string of dominant performances, Retherford took a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period before turning Central Michigan's Justin Oliver for a pin at the 2:12 mark.

Retherford now has two pins and a technical fall in his three matches at the national tournament. He is a two-time All-American.

"I'm having a lot of fun out there," Retherford said. "I've been waiting for this for two years. It's been a long time, so I'm going to just enjoy it."

Retherford has made things look easy on the mats inside MSG. And you won't find a guy who is enjoying the experience more than him.

"As you advance in the tournament, you tend to get looser out there," said Retherford. "The first match, you just get those jitters out of the way and then go out and wrestle. I think if you start letting yourself get too intense, you start getting tired. If you let yourself get too emotional, things get to you. If you get taken down, you just keep wrestling. I'm just focused on scoring points."

Nolf and Nickal followed suit with a pair of major decision victories in their two quarterfinal bouts. The redshirt freshman duo will be in the NCAA semis for the first time in their careers. Nolf scored an 11-3 victory over Joseph Smith from Oklahoma State, while Nickal topped Oklahoma State's Chandler Rogers by a count of 15-4.

"Being a senior, it's really fun to see all those young guys doing so well," said McIntosh. "The guys are wrestling really well. I think tonight is going to be a lot of fun to watch. This team is just having a lot of fun right now."

McIntosh earned All-America status for the third time in his Penn State career after tallying a 16-4 major decision against Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker on Friday. The California native is thrilled to be in the position that he is in right now, and he's wrestling as well as he ever has for the Blue and White.

"I couldn't ask for a better place to be in than right here," McIntosh said. "It's a lot of fun. It's a great crowd out there. The atmosphere is awesome. You wrestle tough opponents. Every match is a ton of fun. I'm very grateful to be here. We've got a lot of momentum heading into these semis."

The brackets have been trimmed down to four in the main draw, and a total of 12 grapplers remain at each weight class. The stage is set for a thrilling night of NCAA semifinal matches in The World's Most Famous Arena.

Session four of the NCAA Championships begins at 7 p.m. on Friday (ESPN and ESPN3.com). There will be six mats on the floor of MSG, with the semifinal bouts taking place on the middle two mats and consolation bouts filling the outer four mats. Five Nittany Lions will kick things off with semifinals matches at the beginning of the morning session. There will be two rounds of consolation action on the outer mats. Stay tuned for much more from Madison Square Garden.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (30-3) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 15 David Terao (American)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (28-6) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Fourth Round vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (14-10) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #1 Zain Retherford (32-0) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 5 Alec Pantaleo (Michigan)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (32-1) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 15 Chad Walsh (Rider)

165: Geno Morelli (21-12) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #1 Bo Nickal (32-1) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Semifinals vs. No. 12 Nathan Jackson (Indiana)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (31-0) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 4 Nathan Burak (Iowa)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session II Roundup

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NCAA Championships Session I Roundup

NEW YORK - The Nittany Lion wrestling team earned six slots in the NCAA quarterfinals following another strong session inside Madison Square Garden on Thursday evening.

Penn State went 6-2 in second round matches, and the Lions will have Nico Megaludis (125), Jordan Conaway (133), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) wrestling in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships on Friday.

Boosted by 5.5 bonus points in the evening session, the Nittany Lions powered into the overall lead following the first day of competition in New York. On Friday night, Penn State tallied pins from Retherford and McIntosh and a technical fall from Nolf en route to a total of 13.5 bonus points in the opening two sessions of the tournament.

The Lions went 14-4 overall on the first day with three pins, three technical falls and three major decisions. With 27.5 points, the Lions own a 3.5-point lead over Ohio State heading into the second day of the action in The Garden. Oklahoma State is third with 22.0 points. Penn State has six wrestlers still alive (eight total) in the main draw, while Ohio State has five and Oklahoma State has seven.


Session II Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Penn State - 27.5 (6 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
2. Ohio State - 24.0 (5 Main Draw, 1 Consolation)
3. Oklahoma State - 22.0 (7 Main Draw, 1 Consolation)
4. Nebraska - 20.0 (5 Main Draw, 5 Consolation)

11794433.jpeg
The eight-mat setup on day one of the championships often lends itself to a pair of Nittany Lions wrestling simultaneously. In the case of Thursday night, Megaludis and Conaway wrestled side-by-side during the lead-off matches of the session for the Blue and White.

Both bouts proved to be sparks in a pivotal stretch for the Lions en route to punching six tickets to the quarterfinal round. Megaludis finished his match first with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Joshua Rodriguez from North Dakota State. He scored the first takedown of the match and took a 3-1 lead after one. Megaludis added an escape point and never allowed Rodriguez to score again.

Moments later, Conaway closed out a come-from-behind 8-5 victory over 12th-seeded Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin. Two weeks ago in Iowa City at the Big Ten Championships, Taylor beat Conaway twice - once in the main draw and once in consolation action.

The Lion senior did not let those two losses or an early deficit faze him on Thursday night, though. Conaway finished strong with a pair of third-period takedowns en route to his first appearance in the quarterfinals at the national tournament.

Just as they did during the morning session, Retherford and Nolf turned in back-to-back dominant performances in the middle of the round. Retherford gave up the first takedown against Edinboro's Patricio Lugo, but stormed to an 11-4 lead after two periods. Retherford then turned Lugo for a pin at the 6:37 mark.

Nolf then took the mat and rattled off 25 points for a 25-10 technical fall against May Bethea from Penn. The middle duo for the Nittany Lions is potent and a fun tandem to watch.

"We are united as one group. We stand together at tournaments, and we spend a lot of time together outside of practice," said Nolf. "I think how close we are is what makes this team special. Everybody wants to win gold, but everyone does it by looking at the team championship. Everyone wants to do well for themselves and the team."

Nickal became Penn State's fifth quarterfinalist with a 7-2 decision against Nebraska's Micah Barnes at 174 pounds. The Lion freshman did not generate the type of offense he had been looking for on day one of the NCAA Championships, but Nickal has an eye on Friday's action.

"It's been a bit of a slow start for me," said Nickal. "I haven't gotten my offense going as much as I would like to. But I have another match in the morning to look forward to. I just need to move forward, get better and improve."

McIntosh finished off the night with a unique match at 197. It's rare to see the California native give up a takedown at all, let alone two in one period. Kent State's Kyle Conel jumped out to a 4-2 lead after one against McIntosh on Thursday.

However, McIntosh flipped a switch and took control with a nine-point second period en route to a pin at the 6:02 mark and a trip to the quarterfinals for the second-straight year.

"I gave up a couple takedowns I shouldn't have, but in that situation you just have to keep wrestling and finishing strong. I was able to do that tonight," said McIntosh. "It's a good feeling when you come from behind like that."

The Nittany Lions now shift attention towards a pivotal morning session where eight wrestlers will look to add more to Penn State's team total. The wrestlers are confident that it will be another strong day, largely because of the support the group is receiving in the stands of MSG. More than 35,000 fans (17,500+ in each session) filled The Garden to watch the action on Thursday.

"This is an awesome atmosphere. It reminds me a lot of the BJC matches, so the coaches did a great job getting us prepared for this type of environment," said Nickal. "It's a testament to the fan base we have. The support we get is amazing."

Session three of the NCAA Championships begins at 11 a.m. on Friday (ESPNU and ESPN3.com). Six Nittany Lions will kick things off with quarterfinals matches at the beginning of the morning session. There will be two rounds of consolation action after the quarterfinals. Stay tuned for much more from Madison Square Garden.
    


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (29-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. Connor Youtsey (Michigan)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (28-5) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 4 Cody Brewer (Oklahoma)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (13-9) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round
Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs. Ian Nickell (Cal State Bakersfield)

149: #1 Zain Retherford (31-0) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 9 Justin Oliver (Central Michigan)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (31-1) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 6 Joseph Smith (Oklahoma State)

165: Geno Morelli (20-11) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round
Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs. Jake Fause (Duke)

174: #1 Bo Nickal (31-1) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 9 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-8) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (30-0) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinals vs. No. 8 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NCAA Championships Session I Roundup

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NEW YORK - The Big Ten champion Nittany Lion wrestling team went 8-1 in the opening session of the 2016 NCAA Championships inside Madison Square Garden on Thursday afternoon.

Bonus points were the theme of Penn State's strong start to the national tournament. Six of Penn State's eight victories in the first round of the tournament accounted for 8.0 bonus points, including major decisions from Nico Megaludis (125), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197), technical falls from Jimmy Gulibon (141) and Zain Retherford (149) and a pin from Jason Nolf (157). Additionally, Jordan Conaway (133) and Geno Morelli (165) punched tickets into the second rounds with victories.

Gulibon and Morelli impressed in the opening round, with each Nittany Lion knocking off seeded wrestlers on Thursday. Gulibon posted a dominant 17-2 technical fall victory over fifth-seeded Matt Manley (Missouri), while Morelli topped 11th-seeded John Staudenmayer (North Carolina).

Thanks to the 8-1 overall mark and slew of bonus points, the Nittany Lions will head into Thursday's evening session sitting second in the team standings with 16.0 points. Ohio State tallied 16.5 points in session one. The Nittany Lions and Nebraska each have eight wrestlers alive in the main draw.


Session I Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 16.5 (6 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
2. Penn State - 16.0 (8 Main Draw, 1 Consolation)
3. Nebraska - 13.0 (8 Main Draw, 2 Consolation)
4. Iowa - 11.0 (6 Main Draw, 3 Consolation)
5. Michigan - 10.0 (7 Main Draw, 0 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 10.0 (5 Main Draw, 4 Consolation)
5. Oklahoma State - 10.0 (7 Main Draw, 3 Consolation)

NCAASession 1_Blog.jpg
The action moved at a rapid pace on Thursday. Eight mats and 170 matches covered more than three hours of time as the draws were trimmed from 32 to 16 at each of the 10 weight classes. Conaway opened the tournament with a victory in the team's first bout, setting up a stout initial session.

Following Conaway's victory at 133 pounds, the Nittany Lions put together a string of dominant matches mid-way through the session. Gulibon jumped out to an 8-0 lead in his match and never looked back on the way to his third technical fall victory of the season. The stretch of wins also included side-by-side victories from Megaludis and Retherford.

No matter what the circumstances are, the NCAA Championships can be very unforgiving if you don't wrestle your best right off the bat. That's what makes the tournament so intense and so much fun to watch.

"You have to show up every single match. That's the fun of it," said Retherford. "Some people think it's a grind, but I think it is great test and I like the challenge. This is awesome."

Nolf followed Retherford's technical fall with a pin in his first action at the national tournament. Morelli took the mat next for the Nittany Lions. The DuBois, Pa., native earned a wildcard spot in the NCAA field following the Big Ten Championships. Grateful for the opportunity, Morelli took the mat with confidence on Thursday.

"I knew I was going to be relaxed because I don't have any pressure on me," said Morelli. "I'm lucky to be here, so I'm just going to go out and keep competing."

Morelli started his NCAA Championships appearance with a bear hug and four-point throw on the way to a 4-1 lead after one period. He held on from there with a 5-3 triumph and a spot in the second round of the 165-pound draw.

"I got him in a bear hug, and then kind of slammed him. I only got two back points, and if I would have just held him for a little longer, I would have had four," said Morelli. "But it was a lot of fun out there."

Penn State had a loud cheering section inside The World's Most Famous Arena. The Nittany Lion faithful turned out in big numbers, and the wrestlers appreciate the type of atmosphere they get to compete in.

"It's fun. It reminds me a lot of the Bryce Jordan Center when we have the big duals in there," said Morelli. "They get really loud for, and we have a lot of fans here. We have the best fans in the country, and I'm just so grateful that they are all here to cheer us on."

The session sets up a host of critical second round matches on Thursday night. But Penn State's approach does not change. The confident Nittany Lions are enjoying the experience in New York.

"We are just going to go out there and wrestle the way we know how to and look to keep the momentum going," said Morelli. "When your teammates are winning, it's a lot of fun out there."

Session two begins at 7 p.m. on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. One round of pigtail consolation action will take place before the Nittany Lions take the mat in the second round. Nico Megaludis will be up first at 125 pounds. Stay tuned for much more from Madison Square Garden.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (28-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 14 Joshua Rodriguez (North Dakota State)

133: #5 Jordan Conaway (27-5) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 12 Ryan Taylor (Wisconsin)

141: Jimmy Gulibon (13-9) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 12 Chris Mecate (Old Dominion)

149: #1 Zain Retherford (30-0) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 16 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro)

157: #3 Jason Nolf (30-1) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. May Bethea (Penn)

165: Geno Morelli (20-10) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 6 Steven Rodrigues (Illinois)

174: #1 Bo Nickal (30-1) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 16 Micah Barnes (Nebraska)

184: #16 Matt McCutcheon (16-7) - 0-1 - Consolation First Round
Up Next: Consolation First Round vs. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (29-0) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 16 Kyle Conel (Kent State)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Set for Nationals

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11789170.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -Dreams of standing on the podium and being called a national champion will be fulfilled by 10 wrestlers and one team, as the weekend every wrestler has been looking forward to since last March is upon us. 

After 16 dual meets, two tournaments and one conference tournament, the biggest weekend in wrestling is here as head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions get set for the NCAA Championships.

Going into the biggest weekend of the season, there is a chance for potential rematches. Besides making small adjustments, Sanderson believes having the right attitude is the most important factor and a good mindset can carry you farther than skill can.

"I would always take attitude over technique any day. When you have the right attitude and you are coming up just a little short, then it's usually something technical," said Sanderson. "When you are in the Big Ten, you have the tendency to wrestle the same guy over and over again. The right attitude usually wins out in the long run because if you have the right attitude, you are going to improve technically as well."

Making his fourth and final appearance at the national tournament, Nico Megaludis has finished as the finalist twice along with a third place crown. Entering his final go-around, it is easy to be nervous or put more pressure on himself to win. Sanderson thinks the senior has the perfect mindset heading into the last tournament of the season. Being relaxed and focused, Sanderson knows that Megaludis wrestles his best at Nationals and is very confident that he is going to be at his peak at Madison Square Garden.

"I think Nico is in a great state of mind. He's very relaxed and he's focused," said Sanderson. "Nico's always wrestled his best tournament at the Nationals. He's beat guys that have beaten him throughout the year and we believe and I would say know, that he's going to be at his best this week."

Having three senior starters on the team not only provides wisdom, but also brings the experience of winning team titles. Having strong senior classes has been a staple in the Sanderson regime, and the seventh year head coach expects to have another strong showing from his seniors at these Nationals. With the likes of Matt Brown, David Taylor, Ed Ruth and others winning in their final season has Sanderson believing his seniors Megaludis, Jordan Conaway, and Morgan McIntosh can continue the trend and earn their first individual championship Saturday night.  

Despite winning four of the last five team national titles, the 2015-16 squad does not have a individual national champion. The lack of experience in conquering the ultimate prize is not a concern of Sanderson, who believes the mentality he and the coaching staff instill in the team each day is enough to teach them how to get over the hump and become individual champions. Leading by example, the four-time national champ exudes confidence throughout the team and by preaching to his team to carry the same mentality into each match, Nationals will seem like a regular match.  

The national tournament isn't just a time to crown champions, but also a pivotal time to expand the coverage of the sport. With the attention ratcheted up to an all-time high, Sanderson is excited to see that the sport is growing across the country and believes Nationals is the perfect event to develop wrestling fans.

"If you go to the tournament for the first time and maybe you aren't a wrestling fan, you are going to leave a wrestling fan," said Sanderson. "It's just an incredible energy and the atmosphere and the intensity with the individual title race coupled with the team race, it's the best thing in wrestling."

With the big stage come distractions. Trying to stay focused can be hard at times with all of the fanfare surrounding Nationals. Each wrestler has their own strategy for staying focused and blocking out everything else. For McIntosh, he believes that it's a decision to allow those thoughts in your head and play games with his mind, so he works on blocking those thoughts out. For Retherford, he deleted all of his social media accounts and responds only to family and friends over text messaging with short replies.

In order to be the lone team standing on top of the podium for the fifth time in six years, Sanderson knows his nine grapplers are not only going to have to win, but score those bonus points that create separation from the rest of the field. Not only does wrestling a defensive style and wrestling not to lose not only prevent the possibility of getting those extra points, but in Sanderson's mind, is just plain boring and doesn't give the fans a reason to watch.

Looking back on his career as it culminates this weekend, McIntosh is gracious for the way everything has worked out in his years as a Penn Stater.

"I'm very grateful. I couldn't ask for a better place to be or a better team to be on or a better bunch of guys to hangout with all the time. Gratitude is definitely something Coach Cael talks to us about and that's always on our mind," McIntosh said.

VIDEO: 2016 NCAA Wrestling Preview Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of winning its fifth Big Ten title in the last six seasons, the Nittany Lion wrestling team will head to Madison Square Garden on Thursday to begin competition at the NCAA Championships.

Competing on the sports ultimate stage is what drives the group in the wrestling room all season long. The biggest week in the sport is here, and the Nittany Lions are looking forward to competing. GoPSUsports.com caught up with Morgan McIntosh and Bo Nickal for some insight on preparing for the national tournament.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 Big Ten Champions - Lions Win Fifth Conference Title

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VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Big Ten Championship Remarks

Big Ten Championships Session I Roundup | Big Ten Championships Session II Roundup


IOWA CITY, Iowa - Headlined by three individual champions, the top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team claimed its fifth Big Ten title with a dominant weekend performance inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Penn State earned Big Ten crowns from Zain Retherford (149), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) en route to a commanding 23.5-point victory over host Iowa and the program's fifth conference title in the past six seasons 
on Sunday evening.

The Nittany Lions were a force during the two-day tournament in Iowa City, scoring six pins, two technical falls and eight major decisions on the way to 28 combined victories during the three sessions of action. Penn State tallied 23.0 bonus points at the Big Ten Championships and will take a great deal of momentum into the national tournament.

"I think, overall, we wrestled pretty darn well," said Big Ten Coach of the Year Cael Sanderson. "We lost a couple tight matches in the finals, but both lost to national champions. Our guys wrestled well. Three champions, and we have eight through (to nationals). We would have liked to have had 10, but you have to show up and earn your way...This was a great atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than wrestling the Big Ten Championships at Iowa."

Final Team Standings
1. Penn State - 150.5
2. Iowa - 127.0
3. Ohio State - 126.0
4. Nebraska - 117.0
5. Rutgers - 106.5

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Third-seeded Nico Megaludis finished second at 125 pounds following a sudden victory setback to No. 1 Nathan Tomasello from Ohio State in Penn State's first of a program-record six appearances in the Big Ten finals. Megaludis advanced to the final bout following a 4-3 victory in the first tiebreaker against Iowa's Thomas Gilman on Saturday evening.

He again found himself in a tight battle on Sunday. Takedowns were tough to come by in the title tilt. The two wrestlers each scored an escape point before the bout headed into overtime tied at 1-1. Tomasello scored the match's only takedown in a scramble on the edge of the mat for a 3-1 victory. Megaludis, who is 27-3 on the season, is a two-time Big Ten runner-up.

Junior Jimmy Gulibon earned his first trip to the Big Ten finals with a thrilling 3-2 win over top-seeded Micah Jordan and a 6-5 decision against fifth-seed Javier Gasca III on Saturday. Gulibon faced off with third-seeded Anthony Ashnault in the final match at 141 pounds. Ashnault used a big second period to power past Gulibon by a count of 9-0, but the weekend was a huge boost for the Lion veteran as he preps for the national tournament.

However, with the Lions needing a boost in the finals on Sunday afternoon, top-seeded and undefeated Zain Retherford took the mat against No. 2-seeded Brandon Sorensen in the final at 149 pounds. At the time, it was a pivotal bout in the team scoring with Iowa inching closer to Penn State, and the near-capacity crowd in Carver-Hawkeye knew it.

So did Retherford. The redshirt sophomore took a commanding 2-0 lead after a first-period takedown and powerful ride out. He notched an escape early in the second for a 3-0 edge heading into the third. Retherford never relinquished control of the match on the way to a 4-0 victory on the way to his first Big Ten championship.

"I just think our team is having a lot of fun being out there and competing," said Retherford. "The depth is awesome. The guys like to compete hard, and we are having a lot of fun this time of year. That is for sure...I've never done it before, so it was awesome today."

In a rematch of two of the sport's most decorated wrestlers, No. 1 Jason Nolf battled No. 2 Isaiah Martinez in the 157-pound final. Nolf pinned Martinez during the dual season, but the fans had this bout circled for the month of March.

The duo did not disappoint and put on a great show on Sunday evening. Nolf moved in on Martinez's legs on several occasions, but Martinez held him off. The match entered sudden victory knotted at 1-1. The bout entered a second sudden victory period tied at 2-2. Martinez earned a tiebreaker victory by virtue of 22 seconds of riding time in the second tiebreaker, claiming the Big Ten crown on criteria.

The Lions were far from done in the finals, though. Redshirt freshman Bo Nickal rolled past Zach Brunson of Illinois by a score of 18-9 in the 174-pound final. Nickal wasted little time taking command of the match, scoring two quick takedowns in the first period. The Texas native never looked back from there, completing a dominant run in his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships. In three matches, Nickal had two majors and a pin.

"This was an awesome experience," said Nickal. "The fans were great. Wrestling is my favorite thing to do, so I just went out there and had a good time. As a team, you have to go our there and compete, and we did that this weekend.

Senior Morgan McIntosh put an exclamation point on Penn State's title-winning day in Iowa by winning his second-straight Big Ten Championship at 197 pounds. A first-period takedown ignited the California native to a 3-2 decision against Iowa's Nathan Burak.

"It feels good to be a part of a team like this during my senior season," said McIntosh. "This is what I came here to do. I wish I could have scored a few more points and make it a little more exciting for the fans. But it feels good to get the win, regardless of how the match went. And to lock up that team victory, it was exciting."

With three individual champs on Sunday, the Nittany Lions now have 38 Big Ten titles among 23 different wrestlers in program history. McIntosh became Penn State's ninth wrestler to earn at least two Big Ten championships. As a team, the Lions finished just a half-point off of their all-time high score at the Big Ten Championships.

In all, nine Nittany Lions placed at the Big Ten Championships. In addition to the six Lions who placed in the top two, Conaway (133) finished fourth, McCutcheon (184) took fifth and Morelli (165) finished eighth. By virtue of their finishing spot, Megaludis, Conaway, Gulibon, Retherford, Nolf, Nickal, McCutcheon and McIntosh all qualified for the NCAA Championships, which begin on March 17 in Madison Square Garden.

"We had guys step up big time for us on the back side of the bracket, and they got some huge points for our team score," said Nickal. "I'm really proud of the team, and I'm excited to compete with this group of guys at the NCAAs in two weeks."

Focus now shifts towards the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, as the Nittany Lions will be seeking their fifth national title in six seasons.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (27-3) - 3-1 - Finished Second

133: #3 Jordan Conaway (26-5) - 4-2 - Finished Fourth

141: #8 Jimmy Gulibon (12-9) - 2-1 - Finished Second

149: #1 Zain Retherford (29-0) - 4-0 - Big Ten Champion

157: #1 Jason Nolf (29-1) - 3-1 - Finished Second

165: #7 Geno Morelli (19-10) - 2-3 - Finished Eighth

174: #1 Bo Nickal (29-1) - 3-0 - Big Ten Champion

184: #2 Matt McCutcheon (16-6) - 2-2 - Finished Fifth

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (28-0) - 4-0 - Big Ten Champion

285: #8 Nick Nevills (6-3) - 1-2



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

 
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